Two teams dealing with a litany of injuries square off when the Miami Heat host the struggling Orlando Magic on Tuesday. The missing players for Miami include center Hassan Whiteside (knee) and shooting guard Dion Waiters (ankle) while center Nikola Vucevic (broken index finger) is the latest Orlando player to go down.
The Magic have dropped eight consecutive games and the injury to Vucevic during Saturday’s 130-103 loss to the Washington Wizards leaves three starters ailing -- forwards Aaron Gordon (missed last four due to a calf injury) and Evan Fournier (eight straight absences due to a sprained ankle) are the others. “I’ve never been a part of a team with this many injuries,” Vucevic, who will miss six-to-eight weeks, told reporters. “It’s very unfortunate. Happened to be me. It (stinks). We can’t catch a break from injuries at all.” Miami can relate but the Heat did get point guard Goran Dragic (elbow) and forward James Johnson (ankle) back for Saturday’s 109-94 setback against the New Orleans Pelicans. “It wasn’t for a lack of our guys wanting or even putting effort,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said after the defeat. “It just wasn’t one of our better nights. You have to give credit to New Orleans for that.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE MAGIC (11-23): Vucevic averages 17.4 points and a team-leading 9.3 rebounds and he is slated to undergo surgery to repair the break. “You feel bad for him,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “I don’t feel bad for our team and for what we’re trying to get accomplished. We can’t hang our heads and look at all the guys we have out.” Point guard Elfrid Payton was superb in the loss to the Wizards as he scored a career-high 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting and also recorded 10 assists and four steals.
ABOUT THE HEAT (17-16): Whiteside will sit out his 14th consecutive game, forward Justise Winslow (knee) will miss his seventh straight game and Waiters is expected to miss his second. Dragic was sidelined for three games before returning against the Pelicans and he didn’t receive clearance until pregame warmups and then struggled with 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting while recording just two assists in 30 minutes. “I never want to use excuses,” Dragic said afterward. “I was out there and I tried to do my best. We had a bad game.”
1. Fournier scored 23 points as the Magic posted a 116-109 victory over the Heat on Oct. 18.
2. Miami backup SG Wayne Ellington was just 3-of-10 from 3-point range against New Orleans after being 8-of-12 one night earlier against the Dallas Mavericks.
3. Orlando SF Jonathon Simmons is averaging 17.8 points with five 20-point outings in December.
PREDICTION: Heat 98, Magic 92